tv [untitled] March 5, 2012 10:30pm-11:00pm EST
my husband's advocacy also affected the life of our 9-year-old son. he is continually blamed by some teachers. before his father was arrested, he held some leadership position in his class and in his school, but he has been stripped of this. previously active and outgoing, he has become more and more withdrawn and lacking confidence. my husband is innocent. he loves our country. he is a college professor who thinks he has a commitment for our country and a devoted christian whose cultures lead him to devote peacefully for rights and freedom that are universal. for this, he was given a ten years prison term. this is egregious political persecution. his mother is elderly and sick,
and his son and i miss him greatly. i cannot imagine my son not being able to see his father for another seven years. i'm very grateful to china for helping me in united states to live in exile. i appealed to the u.s. congress and the u.s. government to help reunite my family and to urge china's leaders to release my husband immediately and without condition. as well as the many other political prisoners who are penalized for speaking out. thank you to god. thank you all. >> thank you so very much for joining us, for your very courageous appeal on behalf of your husband, and i hope that the white house, i hope the house and the senate, and i hope that xi jinping is listening to
this appeal from two wives for your individual husbands, but also all of the other left-behind family members on behalf of the tens of thousands of political prisoners and religious prisoners in china. so, thank you for your outstanding statement. >> thank you. >> i'd like to now ask -- >> sir. >> yes? >> i also want congress can keep my husband's articles, the 347 articles and 2 letters to the premier wen jiabao. >> thank you. we will receive those articles and i thank you. >> yes. okay, thank you. >> thank you. mr. genser. >> good afternoon, mr. chairman and mr. co-chairman, and thank you for the opportunity to speak with all of you today. i want to begin by thanking the congressional executive commission on china, and in fact, all the members and staff here today for the really fabulous work that you're doing
on behalf of the united states. it is real service to our country to have such scrutiny of the chinese government's human rights record. as international pro bono legal counsel to imprisoned chinese lawyer gao zhisheng, i want to provide you with a brief overview of his case and my explanation as to why his continued detention violates both chinese and international law. i will also reflect on why, although mr. gao is only one of many chinese prisoners of conscience, his case is a bellwether that deserves especially close attention. gao zhisheng was a prominent chinese lawyer who ran afoul of the government after he took on politically sensitive cases, particularly those of religious minority groups. in 2005, the government shut down his law firm. in august 2006, the authorities arrested mr. gao and accused him of insighting subversion, a charge frequently used to silence government critics, like 2010 nobel peace prize laureate
liat xiabao, also a client of mine. the government used threats against his wife and children to extract a confession. the trial lasted less than a day and the government failed to notify the family or chosen counsel of their proceedings. on december 26th, 2006, the beijing first intermediate people's court handed down a suspended three-year sentence subject to a five-year probationary period. despite the formal suspension of his sentence, mr. gao is not free. over the next five years, the government repeatedly disappeared and tortured him. in september 2007, authorities disappeared him for 50 days after he publicly criticized china's human rights record. then in february of 2009, the government again abducted mr. gao shortly after his family sought asylum in the united states. denied access to a lawyer, mr. gao was held in secret for more than a year. although he mysteriously disappeared in march 2010, mr.
gao disappeared again a few weeks later. he has not been seen or heard from since. on november 19th, 2010, the u.n. working group on arbitrary detention, an independent and impartial body, including experts from chile, norway, pakistan, senegal and ukraine, issued opinion number 26-2010, finding his ongoing detention to be in violation of international law. after 20 months without credible information regarding mr. gao's whereabouts or wellbeing and just days before the probationary period was to end, chinese state media announced last december that mr. gao would now serve his three-year prison sentence. the government claimed that mr. gao violated his probation and he was, therefore, taken to xia county prison in the remote autonomous region. authorities turned his family away after they traveled some 20 hours by train to see him, incredulously claiming that mr. gao didn't want to see his family and that he could not receive visitors during a
three-month "educational" period. no independent party has been able to confirm mr. gao is alive or actually at that prison. the government's imprisonment of mr. gao, if, in fact, he is at the xia county prison, is illegal for three reasons. first, mr. gao has already spent more than three years in government custody since his arrest in 2006 on subversion charges. quite simply, he has already served his full sentence. second, the charges against mr. gao for inciting subversion arise out of his spoken and written criticism of the government. imprisoning in gao for expressing his right is a violation of the constitution. finally, the prosecution of mr. gao failed to meet international standards for due process. during the trial, the government relied on a forced confession and denied mr. gao the right to counsel of his own choosing. thus, in revoking mr. gao's probation, we have subsequently seen that the government has acted without any legal process
whatsoever yet again. we filed a new petition to the u.n. working group on arbitrary detention, urging it to find this new period of detention is also in violation of international law. although he is only one of many chinese prisoners of conscience, mr. gao's case is an important bellwether for three reasons. first, mr. gao is not a traditional dissident. he is a lawyer, a vanguard of the rights defending movement. he attempted to promote the rights of his clients from working within the system. his case shows the government's willingness to persecute those that promote the rule of law from within, but he is not alone. the government continues to hold prominent lawyer chen guan quan. he organized a class-action lawsuit exposing abuses under china's one child policy. the government is also moving forward with the prosecution of a well-known tenants rights lawyer. second, the continued detention
of mr. gao is instructive because it is part of a larger crackdown in which the chinese government continues to stifle freedom of expression. as ambassador locke noted last month, repression in china has worsened since the uprisings in the middle east and africa. chen we, chen chi and li te all received prison sentences of five to ten years and they put a fourth activist on trial. each was charged with subversion or its incitement. this larger crackdown will only be exacerbated by the government's incredulous moves to potentially legalize disappearances like mr. gao's under chinese law. such a move would render the whole idea of the rule of law meaningless. finally, mr. gao's case is striking for how brazen the government has become in its willingness to publicly and transparently lie about the circumstances of his detention. after the government disappeared mr. gao in 2009, a security agent told the family that mr. gao had "lost his way" and went
missing. later, the foreign ministry spokesman indicated that gao was "where he should be," an ominous reference, but when pressed later, smiled and said he didn't know where me was and couldn't be expected to know the whereabouts of all of china's 1.3 billion people. then, the government released a photograph of mr. gao purported to show him alive and well, but in it, he was wearing a distinctive bracelet he had given his daughter, grace, before she and their son peter fled to the united states. after his wife pointed this out in an interview, an unknown woman tried to steal this bracelet from grace on a new york city subway. now authorities are claiming that mr. gao, a loving husband and father, would rather not see his family. the chinese government's treatment plaintiff gao and his family is nothing short of shocking, and it's contradictory claims show a total disregard for the international community. if the government's lies are not publicly and directly
confronted, it sends a message to beijing that respect for the rule of law and basic human rights are no longer a priority. i thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you today and would, of course, welcome any questions. thank you. >> thank you so much for your incisive testimony. i'd like to ask pastor fu if he would proceed. >> thank you, mr. chairman, mr. co-chair and the honorable members of the cecc commission, and thank you for the commissioners' professional staff and for your excellent work in documenting and pursuing the human rights issue in china. china aid mission is to promote the establishment of a loving and just civil society in china that abides by the rule of law. in pursuit of this mission and out of a profound respect for gao zhisheng and to support his
work, china aid has spared no effort in launching a worldwide campaign aiming at winning gao's release. over the past five years, we have expanded huge manpower and financial resources in a mobilizing effort in this regard. as a very small ngo, we are limited in what we can do, but we know that our efforts have some value in the same way that those voices against the slavery before the american civil war eventually led to the full awakening of the same, of the forces of justice. three years ago, we set up the free gao zhisheng website, called freegao.com, to draw the attention to gao's plight and to launch a worldwide petition on his behalf. and so far, we have collected over 150,000 real-name signatures from 196 countries.
and i printed -- we printed out the signatures today, and we want to give to cecc as a record. these names, these voices, these people spoke up. from sudan to afghanistan, from south africa to norway, from china to america, 150,000 people of conscience coming from various faiths, backgrounds, political systems and family backgrounds of different occupations and of all ages have signed this petition. for more than three years, we have been looking night and day for gao zhisheng. we have never stopped asking, where is gao zhisheng? how is he doing? i, myself, have traveled all over the united states and to europe many times calling for
gao's release. unfortunately, the situation is getting worse. we don't even have a way of confirming that gao zhisheng is still alive today. our fears grow with each passing day. so, we earnestly hope that the free western world will abandon its so-called choired diplomacy and speak up and urge china, a country that is a significaator both the declaration of human rights and the international covenant on civil and political rights to abide by both its own domestic law as well as the international laws, to abolish the use of torture and to immediately release gao zhisheng and to stop persecuting his family because of him, and china should be held accountable for gao's case. on the occasion of the visit to the united states by vice president xi jinping, the next leader of china and the chinese
communist party were filled once more with some hope, hoping that these meetings between america's top leaders and xi jinping can facilitate gao zhisheng's release. we do not forget without the countless americans who under the leadership of president abraham lincoln died to free the black slaves, and without the price paid by martin luther king and his supporters, the first african-american president in u.s. history would not be sitting in the white house today. this glorious history reminds us that those who have been freed must not forget the virtue of those who fought for freedom. furthermore, they have the obligation to carry on this tradition and to show compassion and support for those around the world who are still being oppressed. this is the spirit of martin luther king and gao zhisheng, and that is a noble reason that should compel us to continue to
fight for this, their cause. and mr. chairman, i was very much moved this morning by the actions of my friend michael horowitz on behalf of the china six prisoner faith and all other chinese prisoner of conscience, and i think mr. horowitz is here today. i was especially moved by his effort to cause the obama administration to deal with the human rights issues with the priority attention that such leaders as president reagan and the late tom landis give it. mike ho was arrested in front of the white house this morning for engaging in a quiet demonstration. as i saw the police handcuffs on him and drive him away in a squad car, i realized how great america's heart can be. i also realized the great things that america's friends of freedom can do for oppressed
people in china and elsewhere. before his arrest, michael prepared a statement, which i hope can be entered into the hearing record. as you know, he played an important role in working with you, mr. chairman, and with congressman wolf and others on such legislation as the international religious freedom act and the north korea human rights act. his statement reflects a great understanding of what a determined america can do through peaceful means to make china and the world a better and a safer place. let me conclude with the words of martin luther king himself. "and if america is to be a great nation, this must become true." thank you very much. >> pastor fu, thank you very much. and without objection, your request to include the statement by michael horowitz from the hudson institute will be made a part of the record. and like you, i do greatly admire his work as well on
behalf of human rights, and today's action is just another discernible manifestation of that deep concern for fundamental human rights in china and everywhere else. so, thank you for your testimony. just to begin the questioning, let mek ms. he, geng he, if i could. you point out in the testimony that gao zhisheng once said that you cannot be a human rights lawyer in china without becoming a rights case yourself. and i would say this as well as to ms. li as well. when we express dissatisfaction with a policy or with our government, we may get an editorial that's damning, we may get, as politicians, we may come under some kind of press scrutiny that we might not welcome, but nothing, nothing that even comes close to the consequences, the deleterious
consequences that men and women who promote human rights face in china. i think americans need to become much more aware of the systemic use of torture, the systemic use of all means -- i mean, there's no trials. they're all show trials. there's no due process of law in the people's republic of china. it is a dictatorship. and yet, both of your husbands spoke out boldly, knowing that there might be severe and longlasting consequences to themselves and their families. what motivates that kind of coura courage? because you have it as well. you bear the brunt and the scars of the dictatorship as well. if you could. >> thank you very much. >> if you could answer, why do
they do it? i mean, where does that courage come from to speak out when the iron fist of the secret police is waiting with a baton and with the implements of torture? i would note parenthetically that in the 1990s, i chaired a hearing in my human rights committee. we invited six survi lao gai, including harry wu and a tibetan monk, and they brought in the implements of torture that are routinely used against political and religious prisoners. your husbands spoke out. how and why did they do it? [ speaking chinese ]
>> translator: okay. my husband, gao zhisheng, grew up in the father died. he hoped he could bring change to china and also started very hard to obtain his law degree and hoped to use the law to help more people in china. [ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: he was very happy to use his knowledge in the chinese system to help the chinese people. the first case he took was for poor people and he did it pro bono. [ speaking foreign language ]
>> translator: actually, this one case, one people traveled more than 1,000 miles in order to seek a lawyer's help. the lawyer's assistant immediately provided me help to settle down and they talked about the case and discussed the case immediately. each time the lawyer got these people, they always remind him that his mother, actually, he helping people while she herself was in difficult conditions. >> ms. li? [ speaking foreign language ]
>> translator: so the lawyer has done so many good things in china and actually he still faced severe persecution and even my family suffered a lot from it and my daughter had to take the police bus to go to school. in the class, the police sit behind her and almost 24-hour surveillance for her. when we arrived in the united states, the first thing my daughter didn't choose to go to the school yet, she chose to go to the hospital because she suffered mentally. [ speaking foreign language ]
>> translator: my children and i support the lawyer wholeheartedly because what he did is right and we believe in righteous power in the world. >> translator: thank you. >> i think for my husband, firstly. we are a christian family. the key words in the bible, love. i think it's not just a feeling, but it's a commitment. for my husband, he thinks he needs to help the poor people to have a voice. so he did that. after the first persecution and for him and he started to think, why they can treat him like this?
it's because the only one party. he started thinking over this matter. >> without the division of power and without checks and balances -- >> they can do everything they want. they start to post democracy in china. and every time when i see him in prison, he always told me i'm not wrong. actually if he promised, he will not continue to write when he gets out, maybe the government will release him faster, but he always say, no.
i'm not wrong. >> thank you. out of love is based on a faith-based conviction which is an enormous motivator. thank you for sharing that. even people with faith that powered him to fight for solidarity in poland and we know throughout china people of faith are paying a very significant price. i thank you for giving an insight as to why. i want to ask a couple of questions before yielding to my friend and mr. wolf, in your testimony, miss geng, you make the statement that it's no small irony that while you are speaking here on capitol hill, chinese vice president is just up on pennsylvania avenue meeting with
president obama at the white house. you did point out your disappointment that you believe that your husband's plight has been downplayed by the white house and i would say for the record, i want this clear. i have been in congress 32 years. mr. wolf and i have been. we have never saw human rights issue as partisan issues. if george bush was dropping the ball as we thought he was doing especially in the run up to the olympics with regard to human rights in china, we spoke out very, very loudly and went before the olympics to raise individual cases and set up a meeting with the white house with six dissidents before bush went there including harry wu and others to ensure the human rights focus never left. i have been concerned and i say this and i know it is shared by many others that the administration has been indifferent to a large extent, relying on lower level dialogues and conversations and i would respectfully submit that quiet diplomacy is another name for
indifference. this needs to be raised and said in my opening, there wasn't one public expression by president obama about human rights and there he was meeting with the captor and jailer of leo, who got the nobel peace prize and president obama got it one year before. i wonder and perhaps the wives may want to speak to this, but maybe the other distinguished leaders here. i think ms. li, you made a very profound insight where you said without u.s. leadership on human rights, few in beijing will be listening. uncertainly has not raised its voice in any reasonable or powerful way. the u.s. needs to be the to do it and you said only the united states can make this case to china. if either of the two gentlemen or the two wives might want to speak to that.
how would you rate how we are doing and how the white house is doing? it seems this is on a back burner, if it's even on that. >> i will begin by expressing my dispointment that we didn't receive a response from the vice president didn't meet any human rights victims directly or their family. while we are grateful that the secretary posner at the state department has been repeatedly and persuasively relentless himself, the only way we will see movement is by having the highest level government officials engage directly with the chinese government. i would submit that we have here